The contents and joints are loose and the upper hinge is nearly detached, but the maroon cloth gilt binding of this 1890 first issue of what was only Conan Doyle’s second Sherlock Holmes story, The Sign of Four, are pretty good and this copy sold at Dominic Winter for £3000 to Bromlea & Jonkers.

(In the December 19 Sotheby’s sale of English Literature & History, another copy was sold for £3500).

The following day’s selection of historical documents and autograph letters included a letter of 1889 in which Conan Doyle makes reference to his recently published historical novel Micah Clarke and announces that he has started work on a new book – perhaps The Sign of Four. Discovered 30 years ago in a Lake District garage, the letter is addressed to Dear Doctor, which is vague but tempts one to think of Dr Joseph Bell, the man who was his inspiration for Holmes. The letter was sold at £900 (Green).